Three years ago The Walking Dead enthralled viewers across the country, gathering 5.35 million viewers for its premiere. Over the years, the series’ audience has grown exponentially. Viewership for The Walking Dead is at an all-time high—season four brought in 16.11 million viewers for its season premiere—but let’s not forget that the series has been on shaky ground ever since its executive producer, Frank Darabont, who developed the series for AMC, left the show. He’s been reluctant to talk about his departure, until now.
A few weeks after The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2011, the cable network announced that Darabont would no longer be the showrunner, and that he had stepped down from his duties. At the time, it was unclear why he left, but it was believed that it was due to disagreements with network executives about budgeting and scheduling. While The Walking Dead is AMC’s most popular show, the network is very savvy about keeping production costs low.